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Fox Chase is a Blue Distinction Center for Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment
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Sarcoma Patient Stories
When Hank arrived at Fox Chase, he was "past being scared...Thanks to everyone at Fox Chase, I'm expecting to walk my daughter down the aisle some day and to be around for a long time."
Learn more about his journey and the experience of others treated for sarcoma at Fox Chase.
Isolated Limb Infusion for Extremity Sarcomas
With Isolated Limb Infusion (ILI), the effects of chemotherapy can be concentrated in one area, easing the strain and toxicity on the full body that can accompany standard chemotherapy. Only a handful of physicians nationwide offer ILI.
Fox Chase Cancer Center's Sarcoma Program is designed for patients who have either primary or metastatic (cancer that has spread) sarcoma, a cancerous tumor arising from connective tissues such as bone, cartilage, muscle, fat and blood vessels. Fox Chase's highly skilled team of specialists treats patients who have operable tumors and patients with advanced-stage sarcomas who might benefit from some experimental treatments.
Experienced Physician Team
Patients are evaluated by a team of surgical, medical, radiation and orthopedic oncologists, all of whom have advanced training and experience in treating patients with these rare tumors. Fox Chase's sarcoma physician team includes:
- Orthopedic surgeon Richard G. Schmidt, MD, FACS
- Surgical oncologist James C. Watson, MD, FACS
- Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Neal S. Topham, MD
- Thoracic surgeon Walter J. Scott, MD, FACS
- Medical oncologist Margaret von Mehren, MD
- Radiation oncologist Penny R. Anderson, MD
New Treatments for Bone Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcomas
The team meets with Fox Chase pathologists and radiologists to determine the precise type and stage of the sarcoma. Then, they evaluate each patient and develop an optimal treatment plan tailored for you. Special imaging studies also are done to learn more about the cancer and how it will respond to treatment.
Treatment options depend on the type of sarcoma, its size and location, and whether or not the cancer has spread. Surgery is usually performed to remove the tumor. Radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy also may be given to improve the effectiveness of your sarcoma treatment.
Surgery for Bone Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcomas
In the past, most large limb sarcomas were amputated. Today, surgeons can successfully save limbs in many patients. Dr. Schmidt, an orthopedic oncologist, performs bone reconstruction and limb-sparing surgery to improve a patient's quality of life. These innovative surgical techniques allow patients to walk soon after surgery.
Dr. Watson, a surgical oncologist, has extensive experience in removing intra-abdominal sarcomas (in the abdomen), including GIST. Patients with lung metastasis (cancer that spreads to the lung) are evaluated by thoracic surgeon Dr. Scott. They determine if the tumor can be removed, which improves survival. Treatment also may involve plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Topham, who can perform reconstruction during the primary surgery.
Radiation Treatment for Bone Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Radiation therapy may help preserve the affected limb or relieve sarcoma symptoms. It also may slow the growth of advanced tumors. Radiation may be given by external beam or by placement of radioactive seeds into the tumor during surgery.
Chemotherapy for Bone Cancer and Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Chemotherapy is often used to reduce the risk of the cancer from spreading. It has shown improved cure rates. Chemotherapy may be given in combination with radiation therapy to treat patients with some large, high-grade sarcomas to shrink the tumor so that it can be removed surgically. Planning is under way for the use of anti-angiogenesis therapy to treat certain sarcoma patients. Anti-angiogenesis therapy is the use of drugs or other substances to stop tumors from developing new blood vessels. Without a blood supply, tumors cannot grow much larger than the eye of a needle.
Clinical Trials for Sarcoma Patients
Clinical trials are available at Fox Chase Cancer Center for patients with primary and metastatic sarcoma. Increasingly, clinical trials are disease-specific to unique targets in individual sarcoma types.
Advanced Bone Cancer
Dr. Schmidt also sees patients who have metastatic (cancer that has spread) bone cancer with pending fractures. He uses specialized techniques to stabilize bone defects so that patients can walk very soon after surgery with less pain. Patients with bone cancer can benefit from this preventive treatment prior to fracture. These patients are prone to pathological fractures—those that occur during normal activity due to weakened bones. They can be treated with specialized techniques that result in faster recovery.
Diagnostic imaging is the use of medical imaging equipment to help doctors diagnose cancer. It is very important in treatment planning. At Fox Chase, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps surgeons preoperatively.
Fox Chase diagnostic imaging capabilities include the following:
- Spiral high-speed CT scan with contrast provides valuable information regarding tumor site and potential for surgical removal.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) aids in surgical planning for patients with musculoskeletal tumors.
- New imaging modalities, such as dynamic MRI and PET Scans, are being used in diagnosis and management when appropriate.
Rehabilitation for Sarcoma Patients
Fox Chase has a full-service rehabilitation department under the medical direction of a physiatrist, focuses on restoring range of motion, strength, coordination and endurance. Physical and occupational therapists work with patients following surgery to improve their performance and return to function.
Bone Cancer Pain Relief
The Pain and Palliative Care Program at Fox Chase has a highly experienced team of physicians including medical oncologists, anesthesiologists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, pastoral-care staff and volunteers. This team takes a comprehensive approach to reducing and relieving pain in sarcoma patients. Individually tailored programs offer several medication options. Anesthetic procedures are offered to patients who do not respond to medication.